Angel investor group to focus on agriculture development in Kandiyohi County

Angel investor group to focus on agriculture development in Kandiyohi County

July 25, 2016

WILLMAR—An angel investment group that will have up to $3 million in funds to focus on agricultural development in Kandiyohi County could have enough investors to launch a project yet this year.

In the works for two years, the newly named West Central Angel Fund 1 has 13 initial investors who have worked with a capital investment consultant in recent months to create a formal limited liability company structure for the fund.

All that behind-the-scenes-work has placed the investment group in a position that makes it attractive to other investors, said Connie Schmoll, business development specialist with the Kandiyohi County and City of Willmar Economic Development Commission.

“We have enough interest to say this is going to happen,” Schmoll said.

The goal is to get a maximum of 25 accredited angel investors willing to purchase a minimum of two shares valued at $25,000 each.

During a meeting last week of the EDC’s ag and renewable energy committee — which provided the impetus, guidance and encouragement to bring investors together and get the project off the ground — Schmoll said the angel fund is “poised for growth” and that the additional 10 to 12 members will be quickly added.

Schmoll said the credibility and enthusiasm of the existing founding members — and the existence of a structure to handle applications and operations — makes it attractive for new investors to come on board.

“Now is the time to become a founding member,” Schmoll said. “This next phase will happen fast.”

The group will decide how and where to invest and will help shape the final rules of operation. The broader community may have options for investing in the individual projects, said Bruce Reuss, a member of the ag and renewable energy committee.

Reuss said it’s hoped that the group will be able to select their first project to invest in within the next three months.

According to Schmoll, the main focus will be investing in agricultural-related projects in Kandiyohi County, but the group will also consider other types of developments in the region — possibly even as far away as South Dakota.

“Every single investor at the table is very interested in development for our community,” Schmoll said. “That’s one of their goals. The other goal is to see a good return on their investment,” she said, adding that all the investors know there is risk involved with each development.

Chairman of the committee, Ian Graue, praised the subcommittee that will now be disbanded because it accomplished its goal of establishing an investment group.

The committee has done everything possible for the group to “germinate and start to grow,” Graue said. “We’ll see what the harvest is in the future.”

Qualified investors can contact Schmoll at the EDC office.

West Central Tribune by Carolyn Lange